How did Waterloo Region become a tech hub (hint: it wasn’t because of Blackberry)

There’s a few factors that created the perfect storm and it started long before Blackberry. With one of the highest rates of startups, there is a deep history of innovation and desire to create.

 

University of Waterloo

 

Many say it started in 1953 when the University of Waterloo was created. Gerry Hagey and Ira Needles wanted to create a university that gave students real work experience, now known as the co-op program. This led to building relationships between the school and businesses. UW also has tons of programs that nurture startups and lets students retain ownership of their ideas, such as Velocity.

 

Angel Investors

 

Angel investors financially support startups at the early stages, often in exchange for a portion of ownership. Waterloo Region seems to have many investors interested in the startups here, at all levels. There is also funding available through various levels of government, private groups and not for profit agencies. 

 

Community Buy-in

 

Waterloo Region is proud of being labelled the Silicon Valley of the North, and wants to keep on growing. There are many champions that continue to network, build and create jobs to ensure the tech hub flourishes. Communitech is a driving factor in this and can be found in the core of Downtown Kitchener.

 

Blackberry hasn’t been the only big name to come out of Waterloo. As you explore you may want to check out Kik, Shopify, Google, D2L and many more!

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What’s the deal with Beechwood’s Neighborhood Associations?

Beechwood is located in Waterloo and enjoys a home association model where there is an outdoor pool and tennis courts for roughly every 200 homes. Every association is different. Some require an opt-in membership, where you pay annually to be part of it. Some associations have built their membership into the property tax fee with the City of Waterloo, so you never even have to think about it!

 

People may think that home associations are only for people with kids, and this couldn’t be further from the truth. While kids do enjoy that aspect of the neighborhood, there are often special programs and events for seniors, young professionals, students and newcomers. Find a home association that has what you’re interested in. There are often ways to get involved too, either as a paid lifeguard or tennis instructor, or as a volunteer for the Board of Directors. Home associations in Waterloo provide a unique sense of community and lifestyle. The Waterloo associations are:

 

  • Beechwood/Bridlegate Homeowners' Association
  • Beechwood North Association
  • Beechwood Park Homeowners' Association
  • Beechwood South Association
  • Beechwood II Homes Association
  • Beechwood West I Homes Association
  • Beechwood West II Homes Association
  • Craigleith Homeowners' Association
  • Laurelwood Neighbourhood Association
  • Upper Beechwood Phase 1 Association
  • Upper Beechwood Phase II Association

 

Home associations aren’t only in Beechwood. Almost every neighborhood has a home association with a website or Facebook page to find out more information. 

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Events you haven’t heard of yet in Waterloo Region (Oktoberfest is not on this list!)

Steel Rails

 

This event started in 2011 as “moving art from Waterloo to St. Jacobs” and was held in seven rail cars. As the train carried passengers, each car had something going on – art, music, performance, food. The event has returned each year with something new, with tickets selling out in minutes.  Keep an eye here for news about the next one.

 

The Brush off

 

21 artists come together at THEMUSEUM in a live painting competition. After each round the audience votes on who gets to move on, eventually crowning the winning artist at the end of the night. All of the paintings are sold off to a loving home (maybe your new home!) at the end of the night.

 

Donkey Day

 

This isn’t technically in Waterloo Region, but it’s close enough and is worthy of being on this list. Donkey Day is held at The Donkey Sanctuary in Guelph once a year. Visit their beautiful farm (come down the hill and are greeted by a stunning pond, trees, fields and donkeys) and meet the rescued donkeys, each with their own quirky personalities. Live music, food, and lots of activities for all ages.

 

Tacofest

 

Eat tacos for a good cause. Drink beer from local craft breweries and shake your maracas! There are a lot of foodie events in the Region, and this is one you don’t want to miss. 

 

Grand Porch Party

 

Uptown Waterloo has a lot of neat houses with porches. One year a few people decided to pick a day to have some bands play on their porch and the Grand Porch Party was born. Last year more than a dozen houses welcomed people to listen to live music in their front yard. Maybe your new home wants to host a band this year? Check out the Grand Porch Party.

 

What are some of your favorite events you’ve discovered in the Region? We’re always looking for new and interesting happenings, so let us know and we’ll feature your event in our blog. 

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Al Shousterman
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October 18, 2017
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